Can Hyenas Be Domesticated?

Hyenas are not easily domesticated due to their unique instincts, complex social behaviors, and specialized predatory nature. Their intricate social structures are challenging to replicate in a domestic setting. 

Exploring the Possibility of Domesticating Hyenas

Historically, there is evidence suggesting that certain types of hyenas, particularly striped hyenas, have been tamed to some extent. Striped hyenas, unlike their spotted counterparts, exhibit a more solitary nature, which could make the domestication process slightly more feasible. Notable instances of these animals being tamed include:

  • Ancient Egyptians reportedly kept striped hyenas as pets, with several mummified hyenas discovered in tombs.
  • Some nomadic groups in Africa and regions of Asia were known to tame striped hyenas for use in hunting and guarding purposes.
  • There are reports of hyenas frequenting garbage dumps or exhibiting reduced fear of humans. However, this does not constitute true domestication, as these hyenas remain wild animals and maintain their natural instincts and behaviors.

Challenges of Having Hyenas as Pets

Having hyenas as pets poses several significant challenges. Here are a few of them:

  • Unpredictable behavior: Hyenas are wild animals with strong natural instincts. They may display unpredictable behaviors, including aggression, especially if they feel threatened or stressed. Hyenas often prey on livestock so it poses a conflict to humans.
  • Space and containment: Hyenas are large and active animals that require ample space to roam, explore, and engage in natural behaviors. Providing appropriate housing and secure containment for a hyena can be extremely challenging and may not be feasible for most individuals.
  • Socialization and companionship: Hyenas are social animals with complex social structures. Meeting their socialization needs and providing appropriate companionship can be extremely difficult for an individual owner, as they require interaction with other hyenas.
  • Legal and ethical concerns: Many countries and jurisdictions have regulations that prohibit or strictly control the ownership of exotic or wild animals like hyenas. It is important to consider the legal implications and ethical concerns of keeping such animals as pets.
  • Specialized care requirements: Hyenas have unique physiological and behavioral needs that are difficult to meet in a domestic setting. Their dietary requirements that consist of scavenging carrion and hunting live animals and socialization demands are vastly different from those of common domesticated animals.
  • Long-term commitment: Hyenas have long lifespans, often ranging from 12 to 20 years or more. Owning a hyena requires a substantial long-term commitment of time, resources, and expertise to ensure their well-being throughout their entire lifespan.


Hyenas are captivating creatures, but domesticating them is a difficult and complicated process due to legal, ethical, and practical considerations. Their natural instincts, social needs, and specific habitat requirements make them unsuitable as pets. If you have a passion for hyenas, it is more worthwhile to support their conservation efforts or visit wildlife reserves, where you can observe and appreciate these remarkable animals in their natural environments.